Oct 4, 2002
Tegan and Sara: It Takes Two
By Lauren Golfer
Senior staff writer

At 10 a.m. on a humid Friday morning, the phone rang five times before a scratchy "Hello?" crackled through the handset. The voice on the other end of the line belonged to Sara Kiersten Quin, one-half of the Calgary-born duo Tegan and Sara.

At 22, twins Tegan and Sara have somewhat haphazardly landed careers in the recording industry. Sara admitted the notion of growing up with the dream of being a rock star "was like saying I was gonna turn my body inside out." Up until winning a battle-of-the-bands show, Sara said her goal was "to go to a university." Neither girl ever thought of pursuing music as a career before that point.

Their musical style doesn't fit neatly into one genre, but the closest you'll get to a category is punk-laced, acoustic folk-pop. "When we were in high school," said Sara "we used to play more punk and rock and pop. We started doing these shows and it kept getting more stripped down 'til we turned into a folk acoustic duo."

This Business of Art was released in 2000, mixing a handful of new songs with a few from Feet, their debut. The album is no longer available for sale, though Tegan and Sara don't mind if you steal it off the Internet. "We don't necessarily encourage it, but we do kind of encourage it," said Sara. "People would come up to us at shows and like be like, 'Oh, I bought your [first] record on the Internet for $100,' and I'm like, 'Dude why didn't you just download it?'"

Tegan and Sara's new album If It Was You was released this August, and reveals a new edge to the singer/songwriters.

"We just focused on making a record that we liked to listen to. We were going back to our roots," said Sara.

With a nearly violent surge of passion, Tegan and Sara harmonize beautifully through the 12 short tracks. Where This Business of Art was somewhat lighter and more pop-focused, If It Was You has a slightly harder sound to it, making good use of the acoustic and electric guitars. The album's standout track, "Living Room," boasts a fierce banjo.

Though the riffs are catchy and the melodies are pleasant, from the moment the singing starts, it is apparent there's a great deal more behind Tegan and Sara's voices than meets the ear. The sheer ferocity of the vocals is taken right out of the early '90s surge of female punk bands that Sara lists as influences.

"When I got a little bit older," says Sara, "I remember me and Tegan getting into punk, L7, Bikini Kill, because it was all of the girl music that was out there at the time. I remember buying a Kill Rock Stars compilation and being like, 'Wow who are all these bands?'"

Of course, if you give two talented girls with guitars a record deal, it is almost guaranteed critics will immediately jump on the chance to shove their music into the "another chick with a guitar" category.

In the abundantly male-dominated music industry, female artists are put into one of two groups: Ani DiFranco wannabes or sexy pop stars. Tegan and Sara have heard countless times: "You're acoustic folk, like Ani DiFranco," and couldn't disagree more.

"We're doing our own thing, without the sex," protests Sara, "But that doesn't make us Ani DiFranco. All we have in common is passion." The two are gaining recognition for their live performances, laced with side banter that only sisters can provide. Tegan and Sara are opening for Ryan Adams tonight at the 9:30 Club, playing a sold out show. They're sure to show you a good time and prove that the boys aren't the only ones who can really rock.